The Use Of Plastic In Transportation

February 10, 2017

blue box with wheels

Though we moan about trains being late – and quite rightly so – as well as the unreliability of ancient buses, it’s easy to forget that our public transports have come along in leaps and bounds in recent decades. That’s thanks in no small part to plastic, and its inclusion in transportation manufacturing today. (Personally, we prefer to use our rotomoulding process when we manufacture our plastic products, but we digress.) One of plastic’s primary advantages in transportation is that it makes vehicles more fuel-efficient, but the benefits don’t stop there!

On The Road Again

Bear with us, because we’re about to hit you with some numbers. Since the late eighties, the average passenger car has lost about 65kg of unnecessary weight. Today, the average car contains about 120kg of plastics, which makes up around a fifth of what remains. Honestly, this lightweight benefit is not to be underestimated – plastic weighs approximately half as much as other alternative materials, which means there’s between a 25% to 35% improvement in fuel economy. That’s not only better for us, but also for the planet – it’s been estimated that that’s saved us 21 million barrels of oil so far. Plus, for every kilogram in weight lost (remember; 65 in the last few decades), you car produces 20kg less of carbon dioxide over the course of its operating life. That’s a ton of greenhouse gases that simply aren’t being produced anymore, all thanks to plastic.

Whew, that’s a lot of stats. OK, to sum up – plastic is light, which means we save on fuel and it’s also better for the planet. That’s not even going into the more specific devices actually in our cars, such as seat belts, airbags and durable safety seats for our children. Plastic does a lot for us and is even used for other forms of transportation, even products like electric scooters!

It’s All Blue Skies

Many of the benefits that plastic confers on cars can be happily enjoyed by the aeronautical sector, too. It was first introduced to aeroplanes in World War II, because the war effort was rationing all other materials. It was quickly found to be an effective substitute, and soon it started to replace the scarcer material of rubber in things like pilot’s boots and fuel-tank linings. Before long, it supplanted its competitors completely, becoming the preferred material in such situations. Commanders found it to be particularly useful in airborne radar systems.

Fast forward to today, and the use of plastic in aeroplanes has increased still further, making up almost 30% of a plane’s infrastructure today, as opposed to a meagre 4% back in the 70s. Aeronautical engineers and designers love it because of its ability to withstand heat. The reduced weight once again improves fuel efficiency and performance, allowing planes to be ever so slightly faster. Reducing the weight of a jetliner by just a few kilograms saves almost £1000 over the course of the jet’s lifetime. That’s a lot of money! (We wonder where it goes. Possibly on building more planes, we guess.)

And That’s Just The Beginning

We’ve just been speaking in broad strokes here, to mention nothing of how plastic factors into more modest modes of transport, like skateboards, rollerskates, surfboards, snowboards, bicycles…the list goes on!

Possibly skateboards aren’t your thing, but maybe you’re looking to manufacture another plastic product. Well, that’s where we come in. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of our contract rotational moulding service, in which we use plastic roto moulding to produce whatever your heart (or business) desires!

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